What is Data Integration
Data integration is a way to consolidate data from multiple sources to provide people with a unified view of their data. Data integration not only helps scientific researchers but also helps commercial enterprises to better analyze and extract information for improved understanding.
Choosing a data integration solution can help a business to not only gain improved insights into their processes but also helps a business to improve the way that they perform actions for lowered operational costs and improved productivity.
Types of Data Integration Solutions
There are multiple types of data integration solutions available to businesses that need them. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but the first step to choosing a data integration solution is to understand the options available to you.
Manual Data Integration
The manual method of data integration is (on the surface) one of the cheapest ways of combining data for improved oversight and insight. While this method of integration typically has no upfront costs, the time expense for manual data integration is high because one of your workers has to manually perform the data integration process.
While you might save money at the beginning of the process, you will quickly start to overspend on your integration system, as your worker draws wages for manually inputting data into a centralized location. This method is especially wasteful as that worker could be performing work that helps to grow your business.
Middleware Data Integration
Middleware data integration is when you combine data from two separate software programs by creating a custom-built software solution that acts as a glue between the two systems. The custom-developed software takes data from different sources and allows you to receive a better handle on the data sets provided.
Custom middleware development may cost some money upfront to create but over time middleware pays for itself as it doesn’t require you to have a dedicated employee to integrate your various platform data sets.
Application-Based Data Integration
Application-based data integration is another form of data integration that uses software to allow for better data access from a variety of source systems. With application-based data integration platforms, you will not only be able to extract and load data from different sources but you also may be able to transform the data for your business’ unique purposes.
With this type of data integration solution, a custom application is developed for your business to locate and extract data from all your various systems for increased data oversight. Application-based data integration can cost more than middleware development but the increased abilities make the costs worth it.
Uniform Access Data Integration
Another way that you can extract, transform, and load data is by instituting a uniform access data solution into your business processes. One detriment to instituting a uniform access data integration system is that it only allows you to integrate data from similar sources. This means that the data must be in similar database systems.
Businesses that choose to gain improved insight over their data with uniform access database integration will need to ensure that their data is all coming from similar sources. If your data comes from a variety of source types, it may be best to choose a custom-developed data integration option as they can better access any data that you want to include.
Common Storage Data Integration
Commonly referred to as data warehousing, common storage data integration, is a method of data consolidation where a program copies data from a variety of applications into one data source. This allows you to turn to one platform for your data instead of multiple applications.
Common data storage solutions are beneficial because unlike uniform access data integration solutions, this type of solution allows you to access data from a variety of sources that do not necessarily have to be related.
Types of Data Integration Tools
To better assist you in understanding how to combine, consolidate, and visualize your data, we find it useful to explain the different types of tools that are used to help you in this effort.
A pre-built data connection tool is a tool used by software development agencies to connect your data using standard name fields and standardized syntax. If your business uses unique name fields and syntax for your data, this option may not be the best choice for your business’ purposes.
Open-source architecture is a tool that allows for the combining of data that allows businesses a more flexible integration solution for their data. Open source tools are often more affordable than proprietary systems due to the collaborative nature of the tools.
Cloud computing is the way of the future. A qualified software developer can use cloud models to help you access your data anywhere. This is particularly useful because many workers are working remotely more and often your business will need to do work off-site to meet customer needs. When you perform customer data integration using a portable cloud model, you improve the mobility of your data.
To help you gain improved data visualization, your custom software developer may suggest a custom GUI interface for your data integration solution. Having a GUI interface will not only help you access your data in a better way but will allow you to visualize your data in new and unique ways that can improve your business exponentially.
Challenges to Data Integration
When choosing to gain better control over your business’ data it is a good idea to understand the challenges that you may encounter as you go through the process. It is important to understand that none of these challenges is a problem for a knowledgeable and experienced software development agency.
Choosing Your Integration Route
While it may seem like it is your job to know which method of integration is best for your business, the software development team will help you to choose your data integration route. When you contact the software developer you don’t have to know which type of method is best for you. They will access your systems to give you an informed suggestion to meet all of your business goals.
Integrating Legacy System Data
You will likely have legacy or pre-existing systems in place to store and visualize your data. When working with a qualified software development agency, this is not a problem. They can create a data integration solution that takes these systems into mind so that you don’t have to completely change your data collection model.
Newer Business Demands
It is every business owner’s hope and dream that their business will continue to grow and change as time goes on; however, with a custom-built solution, your software developer can create a system that grows with your business. You don’t have to worry about building a data integration system that won’t work as you acquire new clients and customers.
Incorporating External Data
Often businesses need to incorporate external data into their collected data. Your software developer can either use existing application programming interfaces (APIs) or create a custom API to help you gain control over all the data that you need to do your business.
Maintaining Data Connectivity
The most common challenge that exists with data integration is maintaining data connectivity. This is often a problem for businesses that choose an off-the-shelf solution as pre-built solutions may not always work with the systems you need to integrate. However, with a custom-built software solution, you don’t need to worry about maintaining data connectivity, your software developer will make sure that the custom software project will work with all your systems.
Why You Need Data Integration for Your Business
You may be wondering why you even need a data integration solution for your business. Everything probably seems to be working well right now, so why even make a change? Well, there are many benefits to consolidating data.
Leverage Big Data
Big data is a term that describes the process of analyzing, extracting, and managing large or complex sets of data. If your business has a large amount of data to go through, like millions of pages of customer data, you can use data integration to better meet the needs of your customers.
You can take all the data that you have and with these improved systems for data analysis, you can learn what your customers want. Alternatively, you can take existing business data and use the improved data analysis system to lower operating costs, improve business processes, and grow your business.
Create a Data Warehouse
A data warehouse is a management system that enables you to support business intelligence activities like analytics to gain better insight into your company’s historical data. With a data integration solution, you can create a data warehouse so that you can easily analyze your business’ historical processes to improve your company for lowered operating costs and improved productivity.
Create a Data Lake
Similar to a data warehouse, a data lake is a repository of your stored information that allows you to extract data at will for improved business analytics. With a data lake, you can easily pick and choose which data you need as you need it. This lowers the time required to create business reports that help you improve processes.
Simplify Business Intelligence
Business intelligence or BI allows you to gain historical, current, or predictive insights into your company’s processes and performance. By using data integration technologies to simplify the BI process you not only save your company money on the analysis you also improve the quality and quantity of that data for increased oversight.
Create Useful and Consistent Information
With a data integration solution for your business, you can create more useful and consistent information. No longer will you have to undergo the time-consuming process of having multiple department heads create reports, you can use your data integration solution to analyze and integrate all this data into one source for improved reporting.
If you need to lower costs, improve productivity, and increase your business’ performance through increased data oversight, it’s time you worked with Idea Maker, an Orange County custom software development agency today.